The story of a legendary F-14 pilot and the gun kill on an F-15 that could sell Tomcats to Japan

Known and unknown stories of a legendary F-8 Crusader and F-14 Tomcat pilot

If you Google “F-14 gun kill” or “F-14 Hoser”, you can find a 8” x 10” frame of a 16 mm gun film shot which shows an  F-15 Eagle locked through an  F-14 Tomcat Head Up Display, at 250 feet, with piper on the Eagle’s pilot, gun selected, master arm on (beware the image below does not show the gun kill mentioned in the story….).

Even if the photo itself is already very interesting, the story behind it, is by far more fascinating. In fact, the naval aviator at the controls of the Tomcat can be considered a sort-of legend.

As explained by Alvin Townley in his book Fly Navy, most probably other pilots have scored more kills, held higher ranks or more prestigious commands, but few living aviators embody the untamed nature of aviation like the one-of-a-kind legend known to decades of F-8 Crusader and F-14 Tomcat pilots: Joe “Hoser” Satrapa.

A skilled rifleman, Joe joined the Navy with the aim to fly a jet fighter.  His passion for guns guided him after the flight school graduation, in 1966, when he was called to opt for the F-4 Phantom or the F-8 Crusader. The Phantom had no guns and Satrapa thought: “No guns? What kind of aircraft is this with no guns?” and he immediately chose the “Last Of The Gunfighters” as the Crusader was dubbed by aircrews.

But the “Satrapa legend” began the day he was given the callsign “Hoser” (even if he is also known as “Da-Hose” or “D-hose”), during a mission at the gunnery range in which he was flying the tail position in a flight of four Crusaders. He cut off the preceding aircraft as they approached the target and started shooting from two thousand feet up, one and a half miles out, hosing off all his bullets in one pass.

His flight leader J.P. O’ Neill told him to return to the airfield at El Centro and the same night O’ Neill had the final say on the incident when he nailed Satrapa: “Lieutenant junior grade Satrapa, for hosing off all his bullets in one pass, will hence forth be known as Hoser. That’ ll be five bucks.”

Hoser was also widely known during the Vietnam War as a fearless F-8 pilot who regularly carried a good forty pounds of lethal ordnance, in case he was suddenly forced to eject from his aircraft and face an entire platoon of North Vietnamese Army regulars.

As explained by George Hall in his book Top Gun – The Navy’ s Fighter Weapons School, Hoser’s interest for guns continued when he transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat.

During the AIMVAL/ACEVAL (the Air Combat Evaluation/Air Intercept Missile Evaluation) fighter trials that put the F-14s and the F-15s against the F-5Es to test new weapons and tactics which took place from 1974 to 1978 at Nellis Air Force Base, Hoser (assigned to the VX-4 evaluators) was put in a 1 vs 1 against an F-5.

As the two combatants sat side-by-side on the Nellis runway, awaiting tower clearance for takeoff, Hoser looked over at his opponent, reached his hand up over the control panel, and mimicked the cocking of machine guns in a World War I Spad. A thumbs up came from the other cockpit, meaning that guns it would be, the proverbial knife fight in a phone booth, forget the missiles.

Both jets took off.

As soon as they reached the assigned area, the fighters set up twenty miles apart for a head-on intercept under ground control. Seven miles from the merge, with closure well over 1,000 knots, Hoser called “Fox One”, a Sparrow missile away, scoring a direct hit.

As they flashed past each other, the furious F-5 driver radioed, “What the hell was that all about?” “Sorry.” said Hoser, “lost my head. Let’s set up again. Guns only, I promise.”

Again the two fighters streaked towards the pass, again at seven miles Hoser called “Fox One.” The F-5 driver was apoplectic.

Hoser was first back to the club bar, nursing an end of the day cold one as the flushed Aggressor stomped in. “Hoser, what the hell happened to credibility?” the F-5 pilot asked. Hoser replied “Credibility is DOWN, kill ratio is UP!”

This story became very popular around Topgun, alongside the lesson learned: from 1 vs 1 to forty-plane furball, expect anything. But never expect your enemy to be a sweet guy.

Still, Hoser’s best experience during the AIMVAL/ACEVAL most probably came after the end of the trials. Even if Tomcat and Eagle drivers could not engage each other, Hoser and his RIO Bill “Hill Billy” Hill with  Dan “Turk” Pentecost and Frank “Fearless” Schumacher onboard the second F-14, went 2 vs 2 against a couple of F-15 instructors from 415th Training Squadron (415th Flight Test Flight).

Both Eagles were gunned down and a gun camera film which showed the F-15 locked in the F-14 HUD almost caused Japan to revert its decision to buy the Eagle.


Image credit: U.S. Navy


  1. Um, am I misunderstanding the article, cuz that’s clearly an F-14 in the picture

  2. Since you apparently like to buttress your side with youtube videos, go to (F-16 vs F-14 US Navy). This video clearly shows F-16N’s gunning numerous Tomcats. The F-16 barely broke a sweat, I don’t think that with the pipper on the F-14, the Viper ever pulled more than 7G. Cannot tell if it is an A or D model, but with the wings out at 20 degrees the Tomcat was out of energy and ideas.

    In the top video that you use as an example of the F-14 vs F-15, in the first HUD image, the F-15 clearly has external tanks on under its wings. So we are not sure if it is a F-15C or Strike Eagle. A Tomcat gunning an Eagle with tanks on is certainly no thing to brag about.

    Finally, again, since you like to use youtube videos, there is a video of an F-15B demo from 1998. The Eagle does a complete turn in only 20 seconds. While there are a couple of Tomcat videos showing it completing the same turn (with wings swept at 20 degrees) in around 21-22 seconds. However there are a few Eagle and Tomcat videos (even with the D model) that shows them both completing it in around 21-23 seconds. There is even an example of an F-14D completing the same turn in in over 23 seconds (I do not know if these longer times are because the Tomcat and Eagle having any air-frame or G limits imposed on them due to age). The point here is that the airshow boss in all the Tomcat videos says that these turns are only between 6-7.5g and at 330 mph or less. MEANING THAT it is a SLOW SPEED TURN that leaves you WITHOUT ENERGY. Both corner velocity’s of the Eagle and Viper are over 385kts (over 420mph), meaning that no Viper or Eagle pilot would usually ever want to get that slow (under 300kts). Although one example from the video shows the F-16 with the pipper clearly on the Tomcat with the airspeed under 300kts. (F-16 Gun Camera) also shows an F-16A having guns kills on both the F-15 and F-14. Again, the Viper is at higher speeds; and against the two, it seems that the Eagle was more difficult to defeat than the Tomcat.

    I am not trying to insult the Tomcat, but it was not the worlds best dogfighter. It, however, was (during the 1970s-1990s) the worlds best interceptor and it was far better at dropping bombs than either model of the Hornet.

    The F-14D still has a lower thrust to weight ratio against the Eagle, lower sustained G, and equivalent wing loading. While the D model is not superior to it in ACM, it certainly narrows the gap. And it would come down to the skill of the pilot as to who would be the victor. But against the F-16 in DACT, the Tomcat is just at every performance disadvantage-

    • sorry to say. It is hoser who has proven the lie of the “7.5G” limit. He took the tomcat repeatedly into sustained 8.5+gs of turning. To say that the tomcat doesn’t have what it takes to turn fast because of it’s weight is to say the raptor, which is actually HEAVIER than the tomcat can’t pull 9gs either.

      The fact remains, despite the f-14 tomcat being TWENTY FIVE PERCENT *HEAVIER* than the f-15 eagle, it still matches it in just about every area. It appears the tomcat is a bit better at low speed manueverability due to it’s wings sweep-OUT capability. If that isn’t enough for you, the 2.34mach speed was done with tf-30 engines. They also said the plane can’t do more than 7.5gs but hoser proved them wrong. he also proved that the tomcat had a spin-recovery mode and mastered the technique with only a 2000 feet drop at the end of his testing.

      Notice how the tomcat fans never really act like their shit don’t stink. We just love the plane because it was capable. We never said you couldn’t make a plane that could do as well as the tomcat, if not a little better. Unfortunately any better is not enough, the tomcat can hold it’s own and that’s why we admire the plane

      I admire the f-16 falcon very much, it truly is the world’s best dogfighter. But that’s it’s only real capability, to dogfight. However either the eagle or tomcat can both hold their own against an f-16. I don’t care what they want to show you, the right pilots can get the job done doesn’t matter who is flying what unless of course they happen to be inside the pathetic laughing stock otherwise known as the f-35.

      But you lockheed faggots are like “i’m sexy because I can tell you what a piece of shit you are for not being part of the lockheed team”. And it just doesn’t work. You have no respect for anyone.

      There are many jets I wholeheartedly admire. I’m not a “Grumman-only fanboy” but i do admit they were really good at making navy planes.

  3. wrong. Hoser also tested the tomcat regularly for grumman. he was able to pull over 8.5gs at 350knots. the thing is, with the wings in the full foward position it is more maneuverable thanks to the tomcat’s more aerodynamic pancake design. with the f-110 engines installed people noted that it could go noticeably over 2.4 mach, and that’s with a fucking plane that’s 25% HEAVIER than the f-15.

    You lockheed fanboys are the homosexuals of the world. I truly admire the f-16 however because it wasn’t designed around homosexual fanboy satanist worshipping political cock sucking like the f-15 was.

    People don’t care what company a jet comes from. the f-14 is in fact the pinnacle of aviation and no jet since it’s inception has been able to fill the shoes of the tomcat’s role as interceptor and even multi role bomber and AoA. It’s more aerodynamic, tougher, more manueverable in dogfights and can bomb the shit out of targets much farther away than any other navy fighter jet. And yes, it can take on f-15 eagles no problem as you can clearly see here.

  4. Pretty certain that the aircraft in the gun sight image is an F-14. Maybe it explains Japan’s decision to buy F-15’s after all.

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